Friday, March 28, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: FEDERAL SUPPORT & FUNDING OF AOT! House Allocates $15 Million for Pilot AOT Programs.

This afternoon, the House of Representatives adopted two major components of HR 3717, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, a bill authored by Representative Tim Murphy, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations.

The House-passed Protecting Access to Medicare Act incentivizes counties to establish Assistant Outpatient Treatment (AOT) programs, a successful alternative to long-term inpatient care for those with mental illness cycling through the system but never receiving needed care. AOT has been proven to save money for state and local governments by reducing the rates of imprisonment, homelessness, substance abuse, and costly emergency room visits for individuals with a persistent and serious mental illness.

“The Assisted Outpatient Treatment model, which is a cornerstone of my Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, has proven track record of success in helping those who need treatment lead productive lives in the community. Under Kendra's Law in New York, AOT has reduced homelessness, ended the cycle of repeat hospitalizations and incarceration of those with mental illness by more than 70 percent. The legislation passed today is a tremendous step forward in expanding mental health services, and gives our effort to bring mental illness out of the shadows a major momentum boost as the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act moves through the Energy and Commerce Committee,” said Rep. Murphy.

The Protecting Access to Medicare Act also includes another section of Murphy’s H.R. 3717 to expand access to community mental health services and strengthen the quality of care provided for those living with mental illness. This section was introduced in the Senate as a stand-alone bill by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Hours after these mental health provisions passed the House, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Joe Pitts (R-PA) announced he will be convening a legislative hearing on Thursday, April 3rd at 10:30AM to review Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Witnesses and additional information on the hearing can be found here.

“Our yearlong Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee investigation revealed that individuals diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness are more likely to end up in jail or on the streets because they aren't getting the treatment they need from our broken mental health system,” said Murphy. “The Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act will turn the sorrow of loss and tragedy into the joy of recovery for millions of families across the country by advancing evidence-based medicine, fixing misunderstood HIPAA rules, and expanding access to evidence-based treatment.”

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